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Posted: Tuesday July 7, 2009 11:10AM; Updated: Wednesday July 8, 2009 12:20PM
Matt Light Matt Light >
SPECIAL MMQB: TUESDAY EDITION

NFL deserves credit for helping players plus 10 Things I Think

Story Highlights

NFL gives players plenty of opportunities to learn about life during, after football

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith has a lot on his plate these days, possibly too much

Thoughts on the 2009 Patriots, training camp and offensive lineman in tights

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Patriots tackle Matt Light has been voted to two Pro Bowls (2006 and '07) and made the NFL's 2007 All-Pro team.
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With Peter King on his annual four-week summer vacation, veteran offensive lineman Matt Light took time away from conducting a summer camp to write today's MMQB: Tuesday Edition column. Light is entering his ninth season with New England, where he's been a starter on three Super Bowl-winning teams this decade.

It's quite an honor to fill in for the legendary Peter King. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity and want to use it to shine a positive light on some of the NFL's initiatives, since I don't think the league and the players get enough credit for what they do off the field. Too often we hear about the negative things -- Plaxico Burress' nightclub shooting, Michael Vick's conviction for running a dog-fighting ring and the behavior of Pacman Jones. What people fail to see is those players are not the majority.

There are many so-called experts who say the NFL isn't standing behind its players, but nothing could be further from the truth. The league is doing a lot more listening these days. Under commissioner Roger Goodell's leadership, the NFL is trying to offer guys the tools to make better decisions off the field, so they can handle the pressure that often comes with a career in pro sports and adapt to life when their playing days are over.

The NFL and the NFLPA are providing opportunities for players to gain the knowledge and the training that are the foundation of a post-football career. The Rookie Symposium, which has been an annual program for first-year players since the early 1990s, teaches players how to handle and protect their finances, stay out of trouble and be aware there are always consequences to their actions. I'm confident this program has saved more than a few careers. Mandatory for all drafted players, it's the most proactive program run by any of the professional sports leagues.

Another example is the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Seminar run by top-notch institutions such as Harvard's Business School, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I've had the chance to attend three of these classes, and the benefits have been invaluable. I've learned, in part, how to apply different business principles, run a company efficiently, and most important, how to leverage the unique opportunities I've been afforded as a professional player to put myself in the best possible position for my future after football. None of us want to think of that day, but the NFL is giving us the chance to shadow some really smart and accomplished people who we can call upon with questions or concerns about starting our own ventures.

Last month's NFL Player Development Broadcast Boot Camp was another prime example of a one-of-a-kind opportunity provided by the NFL to players who think they might want to pursue a career as a sports announcer or analyst. These are exceptional programs for guys who are interested in continuing their education to learn from the best about what they've always wanted to do.

These are all invaluable experiences that many players are taking advantage of on a regular basis. If the NFL got even a fraction of the attention for these initiatives as it gets for the bad news, the sport would be elevated to an even higher level -- one it rightly deserves.

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